I’ve been a fan of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries since they began with The U back in like 2009 or 2010. Bill Simmons created GOLD with these documentaries. Behind-the-scenes shots, moment-by-moment action, stellar re-creation of events. I can’t say enough about them.
Tonight I think I watched by far my favorite 30 for 30. Playing For the Mob, a film about the 1978-79 Boston College basketball point-shaving scandal is a story that has 30 for 30 written all over it and I’m shocked this film wasn’t made two or three years ago.
It has the simple element that all sports documentaries need. An interesting, complex, and thought-provoking connection between sports and society. That’s what makes a good documentary and Joe Lavine played out that connection so eloquently in Playing For the Mob.
1978-79 Boston College men’s basketball team
Henry Hill (Ray Liotta in Goodfellas)
NCAA basketball, crime, shootings, an award-winning movie, Boston in the 1970’s and a host of complex characters made this documentary by far the most interesting 30 for 30. Catching Hell with Steve Bartman had originally been my favorite, but I really only like 30-45 minutes of that one.
I’ll be honest though, the last scene not only confuses me, but it also really pisses me off. Here are two gangsters, criminals, killers really, meeting up and having a glass of wine together like they’re old partners in a law firm or old college roommates. What the hell? I won’t ruin it any more, but that last scene man. Don’t like it one bit. Then again, maybe I just don’t get it.